Social Media Content Pillars: The All-Inclusive Guide
One of the most commonly-asked questions when it comes to creating a content strategy is this:
“How do I know what to post?”
With so many different types of content, so many channels, so many ideas, and so many pieces of advice doing the rounds on the internet, it is only natural to feel lost.
But here’s where social media content pillars come into the picture.
Content pillars are the building blocks to a successful content marketing strategy. They can help you give direction to your content, cater to your audience’s needs, and improve your overall content strategy.
For a better understanding, consider this metaphor.
Say you need to summit a mountain. You’re standing at the bottom of the mountain, and you’re not sure how you’ll make it to the top. Unaware of the time it will take and the challenges that might come your way, you start climbing up. Knackered, you give up mid-way.
But what if, instead, you had set some time aside to plan for the trek? What if you studied the route, took an expert guide along, and focused on every step required to make the trek a success? Your chances of making it to the top would be higher, wouldn’t they?
That’s precisely what content pillars are about. They’re about systematic planning and organization, instead of throwing darts in the dark and hoping to succeed.
If you haven’t yet developed content pillars for your content strategy, let this article serve as a starting point for you.
What Exactly are Social Media Content Pillars?
Also known as a content bucket or content cluster, a content pillar is a subset of relevant topics or themes that will guide your content strategy.
Each of these pillars can also consist of different types of content.
A good practice is to create content pillars that fall into one of the following five categories: Inspiration, Education, Promotion, Connection, and Entertainment.
For instance, if you own a vegan cafe, you could post content across the following pillars for social media:
- The Vegan Lifestyle – For prospective customers who are on the fence about going vegan. This could be shared as videos, static images, and Stories.
- Recipes – For giving both new and existing customers extra value, along with a sneak peek into the kind of food prepared at your cafe. This could take the form of blog articles, Instagram Guides, or even interactive live sessions.
- Product News – For opening up your cafe to new customers along with keeping existing ones up to date on what’s happening. This could be created as posts, videos, or Stories.
- Customer Feedback – Build your brand’s credibility by sharing how your customers feel about your brand. This could be shared as user-generated content.
- Behind The Scenes – Nurture relationships with your customers by sharing honest opinions about what it’s like to run a vegan cafe. This could take the form of images, videos, as well as Stories.
This puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
If it still doesn’t make sense, the next section will shed a light on it.
Why Develop Content Pillars?
Content buckets will empower you to squeeze the most benefits out of your social media strategy.
How, you may ask?
You don’t want to push out random content for the heck of it, do you? Defined pillars will help you craft content that covers topics relevant to your brand.
You will be able to cover the needs of every subset of your target audience.
Creating your own content pillars will keep you from racking your brain for new content ideas every day.
Consistency in content helps build brand trust and credibility. Sticking to your content pillars for social media will help you maintain a consistent voice.
By now, you are probably eager to develop your own social media content pillars. But how do you do that?
Let’s find out.
How to Define and Use Content Pillars to Boost Conversion
If this seems like a mammoth task right now, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through our tried and tested process of coming up with the right social media content pillars.
Understand Your Target Audience and Their Needs
The primary purpose of a content pillar strategy is to add value to your customers’ lives. So, naturally, the first thing you must do is define your customer personas.
You can start by asking the following questions:
- Who is my ideal customer in terms of demographics?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- What does their day-to-day life look like?
- What are some of their pain points?
- Which social networks do they hang out on?
- What does the ideal customer expect from my brand?
Once you’ve got your persona(s) in place, you’ll know exactly who you’re creating content for. What’s more, chances are that you’ll have more than just one customer persona.
For instance, here are three tentative customer personas for the vegan cafe:
- Dominic White: A 23-year old working professional who cares about environmental sustainability, but lacks the time to prepare his own food.
- Kate Brooks: A 35-year old woman who is considering switching to veganism, despite loving meat and dairy.
- Masen Chase: A 50-year old man who is concerned about his physical well-being and wants to eat healthier.
Coming up with various possible personas will help you create relevant content for each subset of your audience.
If this seems like an overwhelming task, you can always consider using a free online tool such as Userforge.
Image via Userforge
Charting out frustrations, goals, and motivations will help you paint an accurate picture of your audience, eventually empowering you to come up with effective pillar content.
Leverage Keyword and Hashtag Research
Contrary to popular belief, keyword research isn’t just effective for search engine marketing. Performing keyword and hashtag research for social media will help you identify the needs and wants of social communities.
- You can gauge market trends and interests
- You can determine search query frequency
- You can unearth key points of engagement
- You can understand user intent
- You can find out what your ideal customer cares about
The ensuing insights will help you optimize your social media marketing efforts.
What’s more, it is important to remember that there is no “one keyword fits all” solution. The keyword data you use for your pay-per-click advertising won’t be effective for your social media accounts.
Take a look at the example below:
The same keyword “vegan food” generates very different keyword ideas and search volumes for Google and YouTube.
Image via Ahrefs
On Google, “vegan food near me” is the most searched keyword. Whereas, on YouTube, it’s “vegan food.”
Image via Ahrefs
All in all, researching keywords will enable you to anticipate demand for certain topics. Once you’re done with this step, it’s time to move on to the most important part—developing the content pillars.
Develop Core Content Pillars
Now that you have a clear understanding of your buyer persona, their needs, and what they search for, you are all set to develop your core content pillars.
A good way to go about this is to lay down all the topics and keyword phrases you’d like to cover on a spreadsheet.
Next, sort them out based on relatability.
For example, keywords such as “what is vegan food,” “vegan food benefits,” and “vegan food recipes” could be clustered under the umbrella of vegan food.
Here, Vegan Food is the core content pillar, whereas the rest are supporting pillars.
While there is no magic number for the amount of social media content pillars you must have, as a rule of thumb, you can come up with about 4-5. Furthermore, you should assign 5-6 supporting pillars to each one of them.
Now that you have concretized your content pillars, it’s time to create content!
Create a Content Calendar
One of the most important aspects of your pillar content strategy is coming up with a content calendar.
Your content calendar will work as a week-by-week outline for:
- What you’re posting
- When you’re posting it
- Who you’re targeting
- Which social media platforms you’re picking
This will ensure that you’re posting the right content at the right times, and maintaining a cohesive brand presence on your social accounts.
For instance, you might have a persona that’s working a 9-5 job and can only check their social accounts during late evenings.
On the other hand, you may have followers that are constantly on their phones and like to consume a high dose of content.
To get even more value out of your content pillars, you can take a deep dive into your audience analytics and understand how and when they like to consume content.
Let that information guide your content calendar, and keep every persona accounted for based on their behavior.
Develop and Share Engaging Content
Finally, it’s time to get started with content creation.
Do so while keeping your target audience, their needs, their aesthetics, and their schedule in time. Also, make sure you’re sharing content consistently across all the platforms you’re present on.
At this point, you’re probably thinking…
“What if I run out of ideas?”
A good way to avoid that from happening is by developing a content bank. Simply put, you can create a document with separate tabs for each of your social media content pillars.
Every time an idea pops into your head, jot it down in the section it belongs to. You have no idea how much time and effort this will save you in the long run!
You can also rely on past performance to guide future content.
For instance, memes work especially well for plant-based meat producer company Beyond Meat’s social accounts.
Image via Instagram
So, a good strategy for Beyond Meat would be to incorporate more memes in its social media posts.
Repurpose Your Content
Always remember—different content formats appeal to different audience personas.
By repurposing content for different networks and audiences, you can kill two birds with one stone. In other words, this can help you:
- Boost engagement
- Save heaps of time
For instance, you can repurpose a long-form blog article about the benefits of veganism into quote-based static posts for your social platforms.
Beyond Meat is also a great example of brands that leverage content repurposing.
On Instagram, they post visually appealing close-up shots of food, giving their fanbase a sneak peek into all that can be made using Beyond Meat’s plant-based meat.
Image via Instagram
On the flip side, their short recipe videos on YouTube are just perfect for foodies looking for quick inspiration to whip up delicious vegan meals.
Image via YouTube
The brand also borrows high-quality images from its Instagram account for its blog, thus taking its content repurposing strategy to the next level.
While these are all completely different formats of content, they’re all interdependent and make each other better.
1. What are the content pillars of social media?
In simple words, social media content pillars are a set of themes, topics, or content formats that set the foundation for your overall content strategy. Each content pillar must fall under one of the following categories:
2. What are the five pillars of social media?
A. The five pillars of social media are as follows:
- Social strategy
- Planning and publishing
- Listening and engagement
- Reporting and analytics
By addressing these, you can pave the way for a successful social media campaign.3. What should your content pillars be?
A. Your content pillars should be key themes or topics that your brand, as well as your target audience, cares about.
Each of your core content pillars should have about 5-6 supporting pillars or subtopics.
4. Why are social media content pillars important?
Social media content pillars will empower you to get the most out of your social media strategy by helping you stay organized, create targeted content, come up with creative ideas, and maintain brand consistency.
5. How to create and use content pillars for social strategy?
A. You can take the following steps to create and use strategic content pillars:
- Understand your target audience
- Leverage keyword and hashtag research
- Come up with core content pillars
- Create a content calendar
- Develop and share engaging content
- Repurpose your content
Ready to Get More Out of Your Social Media Marketing Campaigns?
Building social media content pillars takes time and effort, especially if you’re new to the practice. However, by skipping this little extra work, you’d be forgoing heaps of long-term benefits.
What’s more, you probably have your content buckets figured out in your head already.
All you need to do is put it down in writing.
Take our advice and do it, and set the scene for a killer content strategy!
Should you have any questions while developing your own content pillars, feel free to leave a comment below. We’ll do our best to answer them!